The USMCA manages to awaken unionism in Mexico

Note published on August 27 in El Financiero, Economía [Economy] Section by César Cantú.
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Mexican, US and Canadian unions are bringing their own spin to the openness brought to the region by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Upon signing the agreement, Mexico assumed various commitments in labor matters. One of the most important ones has to do with the protection and guarantee of the union rights of its workers.

What was a local topic for decades now has international relevance. The US and Canadian governments (under the USMCA) are watching labor processes conducted in Mexican soil more closely, including the formation of unions and the legitimation of labor agreements.

This gave rise to a more fluid communication between Mexican unions and their counterparts north of the border, who have made their intentions of helping workers in Mexico clear.

“Let’s say that they have begun to weave these connections between Mexican unionism and the United States and Canadian unions … And it would appear that they are becoming stronger”, said Eusebio Hidalgo, founding partner of the Ansley Consultores Firm said in an interview.

Óscar de la Vega, a lawyer at the De la Vega & Martínez Rojas Firm, has noticed the same phenomenon. In his opinion, Mexico made too many concessions in the chapter on labor matters of the agreement, an opinion that he shares with Tatiana Clouthier, Secretary of Economy.

“The USMCA greatly motivated this international labor connectivity… We left the door wide open, which was the price for being a part of the USMCA”, stated the litigant lawyer.

First victories

Unions acknowledge this coordination. Susana Prieto, union leader of “Movimiento 20/32”, stated that it was she and the members of her union who provided evidence in favor of the affected workers in the Tridonex case.

For their part, the Canadian union Unifor and the US AFL-CIO workers’ union closely monitored the legitimation of the collective bargaining agreement conducted at the General Motors plant in Silao, Guanajuato.

Jerry Dias, national leader of Unifor, stated that they will continue to offer support to independent unions in Mexico. They will even request resources from their government.

According to the unionist, Unifor has been in coordination with Mexican Unions for over 20 years in order to improve their collective bargaining agreements. The activation of the USMCA, however, has made their tasks easier.

“Much of the language that we are speaking in relation with protection collective agreements was provided by Canada and by my union. That is why I stake so much on this”, he said.

The United States is also contemplating dedicating resources for a greater union coordination between countries.

The Independent Mexico Labor Expert Board – assembled by the US Congress and with the participation of the key unions in the country – suggested, in one of its most recent reports, the assignment of 40 million dollars (MDD) for cross-border trade union activities, and a minimum of 10 MDD for campaigns aimed at Mexican workers to raise their awareness in regard to their rights to organization and collective bargaining.

The distrust is so high that the US Congress assigned 180 MDD to guarantee its implementation.

Faced with this new panorama, unions with a long trajectory in Mexico will have to adapt or perish.

“It is very complicated for unions to remain valid. They will definitively have to offer a very strong and solid representation, or they will disappear”, said Óscar de la Vega.